By Julia Hurdlebrink, 4-H Extension Agent in Adams County
Every year, the 4-H community nationwide celebrates National 4-H Week, showcasing the experiences 4-H offers youth and inviting new members to join the 4-H family. Join Colorado 4-H members, leaders, families, alumni, and staff on October 3-9, 2021 in celebrating everything 4-H!
Over a century serving Colorado’s youth
4-H began over 100 years ago and has since grown into the largest youth development program in the nation. 4-H prepares young people to be leaders in their community and around the world through hands-on experiences. Adult volunteers encourage youth to gain knowledge and learn practical life skills through 4-H projects and activities. 4-H gives members the opportunity to learn by doing, grow through their learning experiences, express their ideas and lead.
Colorado 4-H’ers that Found Their Spark
National 4-H Week invites youth to ‘Find Your Spark,’ highlighting the ways 4-H empowers youth to explore their passions through self-driven experiential learning. Colorado 4-H’ers around the state have ‘found their spark’ through their local 4-H clubs, exploring their interests, potential careers, and passions.
From Garfield County 4-H to Tokyo Olympic Gold
Olympic Gold Medalist William Shaner found his spark in his passion for shooting sports through 4-H. Shaner grew up in Rifle, Colorado, where he was involved with Colorado 4-H shooting sports from 2009 – 2014. After getting his start with Garfield County 4-H at age 9, Shaner won multiple titles at the state and local level before moving on to national and international competitions.
“4-H is one of the best ways to get a feel for the shooting sports, so you decide whether or not you want to pursue competitive shooting,” said Shaner.
All his hard work paid off when Shaner won the Olympic Gold Medal in the men’s 10-meter air rifle event during the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. At 20 years old, Shaner is the youngest U.S. Men’s Olympic Rifle Qualifier and the second-youngest men’s 10-meter air rifle Olympic champion of all time.
Through 4-H, Shaner found a spark that drove him all the way to Olympic Gold.
From Douglas County 4-H to the cover of TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao also found her spark through 4-H. Rao was selected as TIME’s first Kid of the Year for her astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction to cyberbullying.
A current 4-H’er in Douglas County, Rao began her 4-H career in Tennessee.
“I was introduced to several topics in different STEM clubs and 4-H had a STEM club in Nashville which introduced me to science concepts. This sparked my interest in using science as a catalyst for social change,” said Rao.
Like Shaner, Rao cultivated her passions and learned through doing with Colorado 4-H.